-1

Can I use might and may in the same sentence? Am I mixing tenses incorrectly? "To your pleasure, I might have changed and may not dwell in silly thoughts about love I used to a few years ago."

I have a doubt is it correct to use might and may in the same sentence. One in the form 'May / might + have + past participle' and the other in 'may/might + present'.

  • What do you mean by "might have changed"? Do you mean you are not the same person anymore that you were few years ago? – AIQ Sep 20 at 20:14
  • @AIQ yes. You understood it correctly. – Tony Sep 20 at 20:17
  • Could you provide more information about your sentence, please? Did you write this sentence yourself or did you find it in a book? (I can't find it online) Do you want to use this sentence in some way, or is this question just for learning purposes? – Sydney Sep 20 at 21:04
  • 1
    It's a mouthful of a sentence but you can certainly use might and may in the same sentence. Most native English speakers mix them up all the time. I might have exceeded the speed limit yesterday and I may do so again. Or I may have exceeded the speed limit yesterday and I might do so again. – Ronald Sole Sep 20 at 23:02
  • @Sydney Yes, I am asking this question for learning purpose. And I wrote the sentence myself. I have a doubt is it correct to use might and may in the same sentence. One in the form 'May / might + have + past participle' and the other in 'may/might + present'. I want to convey it to the other person (who used to tell me not to dwell in silly thoughts about love a few years ago) that I am a changed person now, especially to her pleasure. – Tony Sep 21 at 5:55
0

Firstly, there's no reason why you can't mix tenses in a sentence. Did a teacher or textbook say that you can't? If a doctor asks you how much you exercise, you can say 'I walk 2 km every morning and ran 1 km yesterday'.

Secondly, may and might are modal verbs, and most of the rules about verb tenses don't apply to modal verbs. There are times when can functions as present tense and could as past tense: 'I can walk 2 km every day and could run 1 km when I was young'. But there are other times when can means ability and could means possibility: 'I can get to your party at 8 pm, and could arrive earlier'.

May and might really don't function as present and past tense like can and could can, and in most cases, they both function as the same 'tense' and both mean possibility. If there's a difference, it is that may is slightly more likely and might is slightly less likely: 'I may get to you party at 8 pm, and might arrive earlier'.

Using 'might have' and 'may' (or 'may have' and 'might') doesn't really change this. 'Might have' is still the same 'tense' as 'might' (and 'may'), even if we are now talking about the past.

As Ronald Sole said in his comment, 'it's a mouthful of a sentence'. Don't say or write sentences like this too often, just because it's possible.

Last thought: Why don't you simply say "I have changed"? You might not know if someone else has changed, but you surely know whether you have or haven't. I would probably say or write 'To your pleasure, I have changed, and might not dwell in silly thoughts about love (as/like) I used to a few years ago'. (I don't use 'may' as often as 'might'.

  • Thank you for such a great explanation! – Tony Sep 22 at 13:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.